20080703

First Aid treatment for minor burns

I just burned my finger while cooking pancakes. Damn the short handle and my carelessness.

Here is how to treat a minor burn:
For minor burns, including first-degree burns and second-degree burns limited to an area no larger than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter, take the following action:

  • Cool the burn. Hold the burned area under cold running water for at least five minutes, or until the pain subsides. If this is impractical, immerse the burn in cold water or cool it with cold compresses. Cooling the burn reduces swelling by conducting heat away from the skin. Don't put ice on the burn.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Don't use fluffy cotton, which may irritate the skin. Wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the burned skin, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Never give aspirin to children or teenagers.






Minor burns usually heal without further treatment. They may heal with pigment changes, meaning the healed area may be a different color from the surrounding skin. Watch for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, fever, swelling or oozing. If infection develops, seek medical help. Avoid re-injuring or tanning if the burns are less than a year old — doing so may cause more extensive pigmentation changes. Use sunscreen on the area for at least a year.

Caution:
  • Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause frostbite, further damaging your skin.
  • Don't apply butter or ointments to the burn. This could prevent proper healing.
  • Don't break blisters. Broken blisters are vulnerable to infection.

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